The recent mild weather in West Central has lured anglers out to area lakes to enjoy some ice fishing.
Some may just set up shop for the day, while others have a permanent ice fishing shack on the lake for the duration of the season.
The Ministry of Environment wants to remind anglers out on the lake this winter of some rules and regulations when it comes to fishing and an ice fishing shack.
Dan Robinson, a provincial Conservation Officer says there are two main regulations fishermen need to be aware of.
“Ensuring that their ice shack is marked,” says Robinson. “Complete with their name, address, and phone number on the outside of the shack in legible letters that are at least 2.5 centimetres high. That’s so we know who it belongs to if there are any issues.”
Robinson adds that the other regulation anglers need to be aware of is to make sure they remove their ice fishing shack off the lake by the required date.
Shacks need to be removed from the ice no later than Mar. 15 if they are located south of Highway 16. Ice fishing shelters north of Highway 16 have until Mar. 31 to vacate the ice.
If the above regulations are not followed anglers could face fines.
“Typical base fines for placing an unmarked ice fishing shack would be a $150 fine. Failing to remove their ice fishing shelter by the prescribed date it’s a $310 fine. We have had situations where the fines are higher. In 2014, a Saskatoon individual was fined $2,800 for leaving an unmarked ice-fishing shelter on Blackstrap Lake and also some associated litter,” explains Robinson.
Other rules that people need to follow as described by the Ministry of Environment are:
Two lines may be used when ice fishing, but they must be within 25 metres (27.3 yards) and in sight of the person who set or is using them.
Only gaffs with a J-hook end may be used to land fish while ice fishing, but they cannot be more than 1.5 metres (1.6 yards) long. Use or possession of a spear on ice-covered waters is prohibited.
Storing or leaving ice fishing shelters on Crown or private land without the landowner's consent is not permitted.
Use of ice fishing shelters for the purpose of outfitting, without a licence, is prohibited.
At the end of the day, Robinson wants people to enjoy themselves out on the ice but to be safe at the safe time.
“The main thing would be to monitor the ice conditions and to ensure that they don’t go through the ice especially if they’re driving out onto the ice. General guidelines for ice thickness are 4” of ice to walk on, 8” for an ATV or snowmobile, at least 12” to drive a car or light truck on, and more than 12” to drive a heavy truck.”
The ice thickness guidelines could vary depending on the body of water and are based on solid clear lake ice and not current or river ice. More ice safety tips can be found HERE.
If anyone sees a violation, they are asked to call the Turn In Poachers line at 1-800-667-7561.